Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Rebecca
Learn the easiest tips and hacks for how to live frugally without feeling broke!
And if you want a simple way to save money on groceries, download the Ibotta app now!
Living frugal can be a choice, especially if you want to be a stay at home parent.
And sometimes, deciding to live frugally comes from necessity if you get laid off or lose your job.
As a work at home single mom, I’ve pretty much mastered the art of living on one income.
And a big part of that was learning how to live frugally when money was tight.
Now that I’m making more money from home, I don’t have to go the frugal route anymore. But I choose to anyway because when you embrace frugal living, it’s so much easier to:
- Stop overspending and start living below your means
- Save money so that when an emergency hits you’re not completely unprepared
- Pay down that high-interest debt that’s sucking the life out of your budget
- Reach your big (or small) financial goals like enjoying a comfortable retirement or helping your kids get through college debt-free
It sounds good, right?
So if you haven’t tried frugal living yet, it’s time to stop missing out!
Related post: 10 Good Money Habits That Can Make You Rich
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
That’s a really good question and the short answer is that frugal living can mean something different to everyone!
For example, some people might think of clipping coupons as living frugally. And others might think that shopping at thrift stores makes you frugal.
And those are definitely frugal habits you can adopt to save money.
But frugal living is more than just what you do (or don’t do) with your money. It’s also how you think about your money.
Having a frugal mindset means that you want to be intentional with your money.
Basically, it comes down to being thoughtful when it comes to things like budgeting, spending and managing your money in general.
Frugal living is just that — a lifestyle that revolves around being thrifty and smart with your finances.
What is the difference between cheap and frugal?
It’s really easy to confuse being cheap with being frugal but they aren’t the same.
Being cheap means you’re all about spending the least amount of money possible. But that can backfire on you if you’re sacrificing quality just to save money.
Being frugal, on the other hand, means prioritizing how you spend money.
So for example, a cheap person might buy the lowest-priced refrigerator to save money. But a frugal person might look for the best quality refrigerator that fits their budget.
Nine times out of 10, the frugal person is going to come out ahead. Because even if they spend more on a fridge, they’re most likely buying one that’s going to last.
The cheap person, on the other hand, might end up having to replace their fridge sooner if it conks out. And that means spending more money down the line.
So if you’re wondering what being cheap versus frugal means, just remember: you really do get what you pay for.
Why Is It Important to Be Frugal?
Deciding you want to figure out how to live frugally matters because it can make such a difference with your finances!
I was married to someone who was anything but frugal and it definitely showed where our money was concerned.
We had a huge pile of debt, almost no savings and money wasn’t something we could talk about without arguing. (One of the side effects of a saver marrying a spender.)
When I became a single parent I wasn’t in a great place financially.
I still had a ton of debt and almost no savings and I had a little side hustle that was making some money but not a lot. So I had to learn to be super frugal with the money we did have.
And when you can commit to living frugally, it can help you feel in control of your money.
- You stop wasting money and start saving it instead.
- You don’t feel bad about buying things because you’ve thought about the purchase beforehand to make sure it makes sense.
- You and your spouse don’t argue about money because you’re both in agreement on what you do with it.
Bottom line, frugal living matters because it can help you feel less stressed and more confident where your money is concerned.
Can Being Frugal Make You Rich?
Well…maybe. It all depends on how far you’re willing to take living frugally and what you do with the money you save.
Here’s a really simple look at how being frugal could help you grow wealth and get rich:
- Cutting back on spending means you have extra money in your budget.
- You use that extra money to pay off debt.
- Having no debt means you have even more extra money.
- You take all the money you don’t spend and invest it so it can grow!
That’s kind of the cliff notes version of how to reach financial freedom but frugal living is a big part of it.
And even if getting rich isn’t your goal, living frugally can still help you build savings and feel more comfortable financially!
How to Live Frugally as a Family
Learning to live a more frugal lifestyle can take some getting used to. So it’s totally fine if you need to take the baby steps approach.
That’s where these frugal living tips come in.
These are all frugal hacks that I’ve personally used to live a low-budget lifestyle (without ever feeling broke!)
1. Start a budget
Living frugally is pretty much impossible without a budget.
A budget is just a plan for what you do with your money each month. Making a budget shouldn’t be overwhelming or scary, either.
I’ve got a simple guide to making a budget you can read through if you don’t know where to start. It covers the basics of making a realistic budget from scratch.
Read these posts next for more budgeting tips:
2. Streamline your spending
So what do I mean by that?
It’s simple. You get rid of those expenses in your budget that you don’t really need.
For example, we haven’t had cable TV in years. It was just wasted money every month.
So we switched to streaming with Amazon Prime and Netflix instead.
That’s just one really simple expense you can get rid of to save more money and live frugally.
If you need some help finding the dead weight in your budget, I’ve got a great tool for you to check out!
It’s called Billshark and it can easily help you save hundreds of dollars a year. Billshark reviews your bills, looks for expenses you can cut and helps you negotiate lower bills from service providers.
It’s an easy peasy way to save money and live frugally.
3. Learn to meal prep and plan
Meal planning can save you time in the kitchen but it can also save you tons of money when you’re working on how to live frugally.
When you plan your family’s meals each week or each month, it’s so much easier to make a realistic grocery budget and stick to it.
I like $5 Meal Plan for getting pre-made meal plans each month. But you can also read through this guide to learn how to start meal planning from scratch:
4. Simplify grocery shopping
Shopping for groceries used to be one of my most-dreaded errands.
It was always time-consuming and more often than not, I went over-budget because my son always tossed a few “extras” into the cart.
If you want to save time and money grocery shopping to make frugal living work, I have one amazingly simple tip: do your grocery shopping online.
These days, I shop for groceries online using Instacart and Walmart Grocery, depending on what I need each week.
I’ve saved countless hours of time and I’ve also been able to save money grocery shopping online because it virtually eliminates those in-store impulse buys.
If you’ve never used Instacart to grocery shop, you can get $10 off your first order when you sign up!
5. Use Ibotta to save money on groceries
One of the secrets to how to live frugally is taking advantage of every possible way to save money.
That includes saving money on groceries. But one thing I don’t like to do when it comes to saving is to make it complicated.
So a super simple frugal hack for saving money on groceries is using Ibotta when you shop.
Ibotta is a cashback rewards app that pays you real money when you shop at partner stores.
To get cashback, you can either link your store loyalty card or snap a picture of your receipt after you shop. Either way, it’s a painlessly frugal way to get cash in your pocket!
If you’re not using Ibotta, go ahead and give it a try. And when you sign up now, you can get $20 in cash bonuses!
6. Reduce, reuse and repurpose as much as possible
If you ask your grandparents or great-grandparents how to live frugally they might share this little bit of wisdom with you:
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
This slogan was used during World War II to encourage Americans to live frugally and avoid waste.
And it’s still solid advice now if you want to follow frugal habits. So before you buy something new, ask yourself:
- Do I really need this?
- Is there something I already have that could work just as well?
And while I’m all about decluttering, be just as choosy about what you toss. Before you donate, recycle or trash something, ask yourself if you can’t repurpose it instead.
Reducing what you buy and reusing or repurposing what you already have can cut down on waste, which is good for the planet. And it can also keep you from wasting money.
7. Pay down debt
Being stuck in debt can keep you from living your best life financially.
So if you’re serious about how to live frugally, paying it off needs to be a priority.
But I get that paying off debt isn’t always easy. Over the last few years I paid off $40,000 in student loans, a $24,000 car loan and several thousand dollars in credit card debt.
Paying off debt starts with a plan.
For example, I used the Dave Ramsey debt snowball method to get rid of my debt.
And once you have a plan, you have to stick with it. One way to make that easier is to make your debt less expensive.
For example, consolidating debt with a low-interest loan or credit card can save you money on interest. And it can also help you ditch your debt faster.
Another option is signing up with Tally to pay down credit card debt.
Tally is a financial app that makes it super easy to consolidate credit card bills and make just one monthly payment.
8. Try a no-spend challenge
A no-spend challenge is a great way to kickstart your plans for how to live frugally.
If you don’t know what a no-spend challenge is, it’s really simple!
You just to not spending money on anything non-essential for a certain period of time.
This kind of spending fast can last a week, a month — even a year if you’re really serious about saving money.
The idea behind a spending diet is that by not spending money, you can get perspective on where your cash goes.
And you can get a better grip on what counts as wants vs. needs in your budget.
Read this post for tips on planning a no-spend challenge:
9. Learn to say no
As a mom, I know what it’s like to want to give your kids all the stuff they ask for.
But if you want to master how to live frugally, that’s a big no-no!
So you have to get good at saying no if you constantly say yes to purchases you don’t need or can’t afford.
That includes saying no to yourself sometimes, too. A good trick for getting into the habit of spending less is to try the 48-hour rule.
This rule is really simple: wait 48 hours before spending money on anything that isn’t in your budget.
Two days is long enough to think it over and decide whether it’s really worth spending money on. And if it turns out not to be, then you’ve saved yourself money and a case of buyer’s remorse. 🙂
10. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses
Dave Ramsey has a great piece of advice: “Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses are broke.”
And he’s right.
If you’re truly ready to learn how to live frugally, then you can’t compare your financial situation to anyone else’s.
You can’t spend money the way other people do or budget the way other people do. In the end, your frugal path has to be unique to you and your family’s needs and goals.
And really, a great thing happens when you stop comparing yourself to others.
You learn to be a lot happier with the things you have instead of chasing things you think you need.
What are your best tips for how to live frugally?
Living on one income as a family isn’t always easy but you can make it work with the right frugal habits.
Have you been able to save money and live well on one income thanks to your frugal skills?
I want to hear about it! Head to the comments and share your best frugal living tips.
And don’t forget to pin and share this post!